An online petition has been launched to protest the level of service being offered – and the prices being charged – in Hay River by Northwestel.
As of April 15, the petition had been signed by 228 people.
It was started on April 2 by Mark Lundbek, who describes himself as a consultant who does much of his work online.
Lundbek said there have been problems with the Northwestel Internet service since it was first established in Hay River.
“Back in the ’90s when it first came, it was the same thing,” he said. “They said reliable. They said fast, etc., etc., and it never has was. It never has been. There’s always been issues with it. It happens every month, several times a week people are disconnected, calls are dropped, stuff like that.”
Lundbek said, as someone who works online, his employment can be impacted.
“I’ll be in a conference call on Skype and I’ll get dropped after a five-minute call,” he said. “And when you’re in a conference call with three different companies out of the States and you keep getting dropped, they’re not going to come back to you. They’ll find somebody who has a better connection and can do the work faster with having issues like that.”
Lundbek also claimed that the Internet service in Hay River is not up to the level of Fort Smith, Inuvik or Yellowknife.
“My goal was to get the attention of Northwestel and get the attention of people and start getting people to stand up and give their feedback,” he said.
Judging by the public comments on the petition, many people agree with Lundbek.
One wrote, “NWT Internet rates are ridiculous.”
And another said, “Tired of overpaying.”
“We need the communities to stand up and use their voices, because their complacency is what’s brought this on,” said Lundbek. “We’ve become a cash cow for Northwestel. And as long as nobody stands up and complains about it, they’re going to continue doing it.”
Northwestel was contacted for reaction to the petition.
However, Wallace noted Northwestel is working to provide quality, reliable service across its operating area and the company encourages all customers to contact its customer care centre with any concerns related to service.
The Northwestel spokesperson also noted the company was proud to have recently been a major sponsor of the 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games, contributing $250,000 toward connectivity in the area.